It's a rejection letter, a voice in my head snickered as I held the envelope. I stared at the maroon insignia in its corner, the symbol of the only college I longed to attend: the University of Tampa.
It's thick, though. It doesn't take that much to reject someone, a more optimistic voice reasoned. It was thicker than the usual "Hello, how are you doing" letter, but that could mean anything. Maybe they thought the idea of my attending their school was so hilarious that they'd sent three pages of typed laughter. Maybe they were sending back my application with notes like, "Have you seen your grades? Not to mention those dismal SAT scores." Really, it had to be a rejection letter.
Just open it and get it over with. I was inclined to believe my seemingly realistic inner voice as I stood there, practically frozen in terrified anticipation. I couldn't help but want to believe that voice, for if the letter was in fact a rejection, I could always say I saw it coming.
Please! Tampa's admissions counselor was impressed with your grades and SAT score. You're in; open it so you can gloat. I pinched the envelope again, running my fingers across the tab that I was itching to rip open. Oh, how sweet it would be to feel wanted by the school I had fallen in love with. My heart raced as I thought about how happy I would feel spending the beginning of Christmas break on the beach, waking up to a brisk ocean breeze in the middle of January, disregarding forecasts for snow. Tampa was calling my name.
Make sure you get those back-up applications for the Boston schools done; you're going to need them. Boston. No perpetual summer. No warm ocean breezes. No longing. Boston didn't even know my name, let alone call it.
Throw out those Boston applications, you don't need them. Open the letter!
Yeah, accept your failure and move on with your life.
I tore open the envelope, and unfolded the letter. I hesitated before reading. This was it. Would my dream of attending my first-choice college come true? Would I be doomed to have the cloud of denial floating over my head for the rest of my life? Do colleges realize what they put students through?
I took a deep breath and began to read. A smile spread across my face.
"Congratulations! It is a pleasure to inform you that the Admissions Committee has voted to admit you to the University of Tampa for the fall 2004 semester."
Florida, here I come ...
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.